Serious complaints trigger plan to close Lake Oswego facility serving children and teens with mental health needs

The Oregonian, Dec. 30, 2015

Christie Campus

Christie Campus

Less than a month after two state agencies released letters detailing serious complaints against Youth Villages Oregon, formerly known as ChristieCare, the organization announced plans to close its Lake Oswego residential facility.

Called the Christie Campus, the facility provides mental health treatment for children ages 6 through 17 who “have serious emotional and behavioral problems,” according to the organization’s website.

The letters from the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Human Services listed incidents from June through late November that pointed to a lack of sufficient supervision by staff members. The agencies warned that the organization could lose its residential care license.

The alleged neglect by Youth Villages staff includes poor supervision of a suicidal child and multiple incidents of sexual contact between patients.

In its letter, the Human Services Department said the nonprofit’s practices “constitute a danger to the health and safety of its residents.”

Health Authority officials on Nov. 16 ordered the facility to stop accepting placements. In early December, Human Services officials announced that they had stopped placing foster children with Youth Villages, and planned to remove children from the facility.

In a Dec. 30 state-required letter detailing layoffs, LaTonya Pendleton, managing director of human resources for Youth Villages, said layoffs would begin March 1. According to the letter, 74 employees – nearly half of them teacher counselors – will be laid off.

However, Pendleton said in the letter than some of the laid-off employees will be offered jobs elsewhere working for Youth Villages programs in Oregon or outside the state. According to the Youth Villages website, the private nonprofit operates in 13 states (including Oregon) and Washington, D.C.

In Oregon, in addition to the Lake Oswego facility, Youth Villages operates a 35-acre campus in Oregon City, and runs a family intervention program from a recently-opened office in Redmond. No layoffs were announced for those locations.

Lake Oswego’s Christie Campus also houses the Cedar Bough Native American Program, which provides mental health care to Native American youth and their families.

Youth Villages spokeswoman Connie Mills wrote in a text message to The Oregonian that the nonprofit is in the midst of finalizing an agreement with the state, and the organization will be able to share more information when that agreement is reached.